Firstly, it provided an opportunity to hear what other educators/leaders are doing to improve their system’s learning and teaching and teacher-learning. Secondly, it allowed us to participate in a professional dialogue and critical reflection on our own work.
Stephen Covey (author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) refers to the process of continuous improvement as ‘sharpening the saw’. For me, the recent visit helped us to ‘sharpen our focus’ by adding to our collective wisdom and commitment to improving learning and teaching across all schools. We listened to our colleagues, we were challenged, inspired and learnt something from their experience.
I think as leaders we are often distracted by the process, at the expense of purpose of school improvement. We need to continually remind ourselves that the success of school communities, networks and systems depends on people and how they are ‘sharpening their own saw’. Covey speaks about the need to feed the spiritual, physical, emotional and social side of ourselves – the very things we aspire to do for our students.
Perhaps the question school and system leaders need to be asking is how are our processes improving our people?
Learning from each other is critical to our success. After all we now expect our students to do it.